Celebrating Topsham

I know you might think us something of a broken record but we can’t help but love and shout about what an amazing community exists in our humble town of Topsham. All year long there are events for the residents to get involved in; carol concerts, the Ferryman’s swim, beautiful gardens opened to the public, musical nights galore and much more. And whilst we sadly saw the final Topsham Carnival last year, this summer we have something new and very exciting for the whole community to get involved with. On the 27th August we will be celebrating Topsham’s inaugral Town Charter Day! Dreamt up in the wake of the carnival, the folk on the town committee recognised the need and desire of residents to still be able to celebrate Topsham once a year. And thus, they decided to start an annual community gathering to celebrate the awarding of our town charter.

Topsham was granted its town charter on 22nd August 1300 by King Edward I. Now I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know much about what this signified for the town at the time. A little bit of research though tells me that it was a pretty big deal. In medieval England, there weren’t that many towns in existence. In fact in the Domesday Book of 1087 only six towns were included. Most people lived in villages and just travelled to towns for trade. Having a charter though, ‘gave people in a town certain rights that were clearly stated in the charter that town had.’ (1) Common rights granted included the right to collect their own taxes and the establishment of their own law courts. So Topsham being awarded its own town charter would have been very important at the time, especially given its relatively modest size.

So why not come down and mark the occasion on the 27th August with us all? It looks set to be a brilliant day with a peal of bells, the Honourable Lord Mayor of Exeter in attendance, hawk displays, storytellers, jugglers, medieval stocks and much more. The day will culminate with a celidh before a firework display at 9pm. The first annual Town Charter Day certainly seems like it’s going to go with a bang! Here at The Passage House Inn, we’ll be open as usual, serving ice cold drinks and delicious homecooked food, offering a refuge for those needing a quick sit down and a breather before heading out again to experience the best that medieval Topsham has to offer! 

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Swimming with the Ferryman

There is one event that we look forward to more than any other here at the Passage House Inn, and it is the annual Topsham to Turf Ferryman’s Swim. Not surprising really given our long standing friendship with the ferrymen of Topsham. Every August, Mike is joined by a growing number of intrepid swimmers who take to the water and swim from just outside our doors, down the River Exe, to Turf Locks. As well as the adrenaline rush gained from a spot of wild swimming, they do so in order to raise money for the Estuary League of Friends, a very worthy local charity.

Wild swimming is an activity that is on the rise in the UK and with very good reason. It’s a great way of getting outside and getting active. According to wildswimming.co.uk it ‘soothes muscle aches, relieves depression and boosts the immune system’ as well as having a whole host of long-term benefits such as lowered blood pressure and cholesterol, reduced fat disposition and increased fertility. It’s also a brilliant way to explore the countryside around us as you hunt out the best spots for a dip. Be it lake, river or sea, it is the opinion of a growing number that you just can’t beat a spot of wild swimming.

The Ferryman’s Swim is a great starter event if you’re new to the activity as the swim itself isn’t too long, you’ve got a fair bit of current assistance and everyone involved is friendly and guaranteed to make you feel welcome. You also have the added benefit of knowing that you are helping to raise money for a most excellent cause. On top of that, once finished, it’s easy enough to jump onto the ferry back to Topsham to warm up with some hot food and tell us all about your achievement!

This year, the swim is taking place on Saturday 13th August at 14:30, all details on how to get involved can be found here. So why not be brave and dip your toe (pun definitely intended) into the world of wild swimming with the Topsham to Turf Ferryman’s Swim? But if you can’t quite bring yourself to strip off and get into the Exe, never fear…you can still be part of it. Sponsor one of the competitors and then come and join us at The Passage House Inn as we cheer from the starting line before settling down with some good food and a pint by the river to watch them as they race downstream, led by our very own ferryman of Topsham, Mike Stevens.

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